Telejournalist Soledad O'Brien asks Bachmann a tough question about the electoral politics of Obamacare:
O'BRIEN: Polls show, when they poll people about health care, 47% are against the law and 43% are for the law. So it's pretty close, but...
...when you add to those who are for the law the 13% who are against it because they don't think it goes far enough...
...that would kinda add up to, that math: 56% (of Americans polled supporting government mandate on health care.) Do you worry that you're pulling against what the populace wants?
BACHMANN: No because the polling actually shows 70% of the American people, Soledad, want Obamacare either repealed or reformed.
The link to the interview is below. But during O'Brien's exchange with Bachmann, a graphic flies across the screen showing the poll results that O'Brien is referring to...
According to a CNN poll conducted May 20-21:
43% favor Obamacare.
34% oppose Obamacare because it's too liberal.
...and 13% oppose Obamacare because it's not liberal enough.
So what you end up with, at the end of the analysis--is a majority of the American public that supports either Obamacare or some even stronger federal government intervention in health care. It's the conservatives opposing federal intervention who are the minority here: 34% as opposed to the 56% who support federal intervention.
Look for that graphic at the video link to interview, below. If you blink, you're gonna miss it: a poll showing that the majority of the American people want the federal government to impose improved access to health care for their families. (Broad American voter support for increasingly liberal reform: that's not the kind of finding that corporate news broadcasters want to stress. You blink, you're gonna miss it!)
O'Brien also asked Bachmann about her proposals for a solution to the fact of fifty million Americans with no health care insurance. Bachmann stuck to her core position: private sector solutions are the only way.
The problem with that is (of course) that private sector solutions for the uninsured have never worked for the tens of millions Americans affected and their kids.
Finally, let me give you a little historical context to inform the "it's not constitutional" argument. According to this history of medicine I'm reading, American life expectancy at the time the Constitution was written was about 39 years. And when you died back then it was usually as a result of infection or trauma. You died young and relatively quickly.
Advances in medicine over the past two hundred years have raised life expectancy to the mid-70s. Treatment for infection and trauma are excellent, and the most common causes of death are likely to be related long term illnesses or degeneration. Treatments for long term illnesses of the aged often involves long term care. You can't just wish those costs away, they're their if you're not going to simply put the sick and elderly to sleep.
And it's not just the "people are living longer" issue that changes the constitutional questions. It's the fact of "pain and pain relief"--the technology's there to treat and alleviate it. It's the treatments now available to chronic sufferers of disease and disability.
Those technologies weren't there when the founders were determining the rights and obligations of citizens hundreds of years ago. The technologies are there now, in the Western countries--and that's why we forced to decide whether to tax the healthier people to pay the medical care costs of the sick and elderly.
We've got the popular mandate to reform health care. That's no longer in question: Obamacare/ACA was passed by Congress, and the Republican legislature that followed hasn't repealed it.
And Obamacare is not socialized medicine or government takeover of health care; that's just a lie that Bachmann sometimes resorts to.
So the thing that's forcing the government's hand on health care issue is not a desire for bigger government: it's the advance of medicine and the resultant expanding life spans and ability to treat disease.
The vast majority of Americans seem to agree that it's wrong to permit other Americans suffer, degenerate, or "die earlier" just because they can purchase access to preventive or emergency health care. That's why the American public already "forces" taxpayers to "buy a product or a service" even if they don't want to: emergency care for the indigent. There's no big argument form conservatives that that policy of forcing Americans to pay for particular services is "unconstitutional."
So regardless of how anyone thinks things ought to work, we're on the hook for medical bills of the Americans without health care. That fact, plus Medicare and Medicaid, indicates that Americans do indeed believe that health care (in at least some instances) is a human right--and that government can impose duties relating to the burden of providing it.
The available technology forces us to consider a question that the authors of the Constitution didn't even have to contemplate. With all the earthquake improvements in medicine and the popular demand to do something about the horrible state of health care access: can the legislature legitimately impose a duty on American citizens to purchase their own health care insurance?
Or do we just try to kick this American crisis down the road again for the sake of political demagogy, and ignore the real human cost to American families?